Sunday, October 24, 2004

Thousands help better our region


Neighbors spruce up their communities

By Reid Forgrave
Enquirer staff writer

[photo]
Lisa Bohman of Over-the-Rhine scrubs clean a parking meter on Main Street on Saturday. The North Main Street Neighborhood Association and Procter & Gamble's Young William Cooper Procter Society also planted trees and flowers.
The Enquirer/ERNEST COLEMAN
Michael Redmond and his wife moved from upscale Mount Adams to a three-bedroom house in Over-the-Rhine four months ago with a mission: to make their Mulberry Street home a great place to live.

The inside of the house proved quite a task - tearing up carpets and flooring, repainting, building a rooftop deck with a stunning view of downtown.

But the hilly patch of weeds and honeysuckle plants next door was the bigger challenge, as drug dealers hid their stashes there and made deliveries to drive-by customers on Mulberry Street.

So along with nine neighbors Saturday morning, Redmond helped change the neighborhood's character by clearing brush, planting red bud trees and painting the railing on the city steps.

"You can't be intimidated having this crime going on out on your street," said Michael Redmond, eating pizza with neighbors during a break on the nationwide Make a Difference Day. "You don't want something like this next to your home. Every day, I go outside and look at that. And it just makes me want to change the perception of this neighborhood."

It was a scene repeated all around Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

Thousands of volunteers spent Saturday making the region a better place to live.

It was a day when neighbors not only spruced up the looks of their communities, but also spruced up their neighborhoods' esprit de corps. Thousands of volunteers took part in Make a Difference Day in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, and 3 million volunteers participated nationwide.

The local nonprofit group Keep Cincinnati Beautiful alone fielded 1,500 volunteers at 44 cleanup and beautification projects, collecting more than 100,000 pounds of trash and planting more than 24,000 plants and shrubs.

"It's a whole lot more than just one day," said Linda Holterhoff, the group's director. "It's a huge bite out of apathy."

Nearly 200 College Hill residents collected 8,760 pounds of trash, painted a building, and collected coats and canned food for the poor.

Four Delta Zeta sorority sisters from Wright State University collected new and used bicycles for inner-city youths at the Chamber of Northeast Cincinnati in Mason. About two dozen kids' bicycles had been collected by 2 p.m.

In Bellevue, Ky., 30 volunteers cleaned up six shopping carts, a toilet, eight tires, two air conditioners and a metal desk from city sidewalks and streets.

"Getting out on Saturday morning and getting your hands dirty for a couple hours can really make a difference," said Bellevue's downtown coordinator Michele Brozek.

Volunteers in Erlanger collected children's books for local homeless shelters. Students and alumni from the College of Mount St. Joseph in Delhi spruced up Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School.

University Hospital nurses checked blood pressure and glucose levels for the homeless. Milford residents cleared overgrowth and planted shrubs, perennials and daffodils at Promont House.

Mike Uhlenhake, an Over-the-Rhine architect, organized two dozen volunteers to scrub street poles and signs, plant day lilies and construct a fence at a neighborhood park off North Main Street in Over-the-Rhine.

"Instead of just going around with brooms and sweeping stuff up, we wanted to do something that will last a long time," Uhlenhake said.

E-mail rforgrave@enquirer.com




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Election 2004 page

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